LOGAN, Utah (ABC4) — A Utah State University professor has been accused of defrauding the university of more than $11,000 by filing false reimbursement documents for his business travel expenses.
Terry Allan Messmer, 69, was booked into the Cache County Jail on Monday, May 1, on one count of second-degree pattern of unlawful activity. Messmer reportedly worked as a professor and extension wildlife specialist for the Department of Wildland Resources at Utah State University for more than 30 years.
On March 7, USU Police received a report from the university’s audit office saying that officials have identified a series of fraudulent documents filed by Messmer looking to have his USU business travel expenses reimbursed. Police say a total of $11,871.47 was deposited into his accounts as a result.
According to the affidavit, Messmer had several times filed documents claiming mileage payment for his business trips even though he had driven a USU vehicle instead of a personal one.
The audit office reportedly found a total of 24 trips, dated from May 7, 2018, through Jan. 5, 2023, where Messmer had falsely claimed he took a personal vehicle to a business trip so he could get reimbursed. The amount of money Messmer allegedly had deposited into his account by filing these false claims was $10,451.02.
Additionally, there are also ten other cases where Messmer incorrectly filled out documents requesting extra per diem or lodging for his business travels, according to the affidavit. From Feb. 4, 2019, through Jan. 20, 2023, Messmer would allegedly fill out per diem requests for additional meals when they were not qualified for reimbursement.
Police say Messmer would stay at one place for a few extra days either leading up to or after the event for no apparent business purpose. In one of those instances, Messmer reportedly claimed he booked a multi-bedroom Airbnb in Centennial, Colorado, for a USU event. However, it turned out that Messmer’s daughter was getting married in the same place in Colorado, and he had edited out the number of guests who stayed in Airbnb on his lodging receipt, according to the affidavit. These ten incidents resulted in $1,420.45 being deposited into Messmer’s account.
Messmer later allegedly admitted to police that his family stayed in the Airbnb he booked in Colorado. Not only that, but Messmer also reportedly admitted to submitting false claims on travel, extra lodging, per diem payouts, and altering documents. Police say Messmer told them he was remorseful.